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are vidgames disrespectful of player's time vs tabletop RPG's?

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i've recently been noticing ways that video games, such as RPGs and shooters can be disrespectful of the player's time when compared to tabletop RPGs.

 

a quick example: leaving the dungeon cause you can't carry any more loot.....

 

skyrim: manually walk all the way back using continuous move. you can use console cheats to accelerate time. 

 

classic D&D:

players: "we leave the dungeon"

ref: "ok..."  (does some random encounter checks), "you've left the dungeon. now what do you do?"

 

in skyrim, there are no periodic random encounters, so where's my "leave the dungeon" button?  i mean WTF? has nobody ever thought of this?

 

and exploring...

 

skyrim:

continuous move, jog or ride a slow horse across the world in real time - and wait until you run into something.

 

classic D&D:

players: we go west

ref: "ok..."  (does random encounter check)  "you travel one days journey west and see nothing of interest. cross off a day of food. now what do you do?" and just like that you've traversed a distance the equivalent of crossing skyrim 4 times in less time than it takes to jog 100 yards in skyrim. 

 

would we be so enamored of realtime exploration on foot or horseback if it was all greyscale shaded and cubes? 

 

the next time you  play a game, picture it in greyscale and cubes, except for glowing green cubes for the things you can interact with in the world. this is what the game looks like from a gameplay point of view - which is usually much less than what you see drawn on the screen.

 

i suspect that games should really be build that way first, to ensure the fun. then you can put a pretty paint job on them.

Edited by Norman Barrows

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I think it's just a different experience. Some people genuinely enjoy wandering around and taking in the world. The "gameplay" may be reducible to "greyscale and cubes", but the gameplay doesn't need to be the whole experience. Nor is it the only way to have fun with a game. Immersion and flavour can be "fun" in and of itself.

 

I am going to guess that you aren't a big fan of "walking simulators," either...

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I think it's just a different experience. Some people genuinely enjoy wandering around and taking in
the world.


Richard Bartle called those players "Explorers." His study on player types is very important for game
designers. It's vital that game designers understand the mentality of the players of their games. His
four archetypal player types aren't all there are today, since we have new game genres and platforms,
thus new player types. But a designer needs to fully grok his audience.

Edit: "fully grok" is redundant and repetitive; apologies. Edited by Tom Sloper

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Many of us don't want the sort of streamlined experience you're talking about. If I'm deep in the dungeon then being able to find my way out safely is part of gameplay. I might choose the wrong path and walk into an unexplored bit and get ambushed. I might have to make a difficult decision between pressing on or turning back, and maybe between ditching some loot in order to be able to continue. Those choices are part of the game.

 

Same with exploring - if I wanted discrete encounters I'd play a game with a world-map mode rather than a continuous world. I enjoy scanning the horizon to see where to go next, climbing the hillsides to get a better view, feeling more immersed because it takes time to get from one place to another.

 

Note that this isn't just about a "pretty paint job" or about the story. I rank the game higher than the aesthetics or the storyline. But for me the game itself includes these choices and these periods of downtime. They may not be 'fun' but they provide the contrast that make the more obviously enjoyable bits really stand out.

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In some ways, this is why the less is more approach can work really well.  I kind of miss the overhead map from earlier fallouts.  You could explore vast distances without having to manually walk everywhere.  (And as a designer you don't have to hand craft every square foot)

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Many of us don't want the sort of streamlined experience you're talking about. If I'm deep in the dungeon then being able to find my way out safely is part of gameplay. I might choose the wrong path and walk into an unexplored bit and get ambushed. I might have to make a difficult decision between pressing on or turning back, and maybe between ditching some loot in order to be able to continue. Those choices are part of the game.

 

Count me in your boat also. Though I agree with the OP that walking out of an entirely empty dungeon is boring, for me the solution isn't to teleport the player out of the dungeon, but to make the dungeon exit lead back to the world in general, or to make the way back interesting.

 

Perhaps one 'inspiration' as a designer would be to try and make the way out of a dungeon be even more enjoyable than the way in. If your entrance route got caved in, now you have to locate a different exit entirely out of this cave network, resulting in you finally seeing the light of day emerging out onto some incredible mountain-side vista...

 

Or a mini-boss you beat earlier gathered some friends and is waiting to jump you on your way out...

 

Some of this may be hard to design, because if the player designs (and if death doesn't mean 'reload your save'), then you get the unexpected player coming back into the dungeon and encounter the 'going out of the dungeon' encounters, but this can be dealt with by more flexible game design (less dependency on scripted events, and more dependency on emergent behavior of entities - which is, IMO, another important focus of gameplay).

 

One thing I dislike about the 'teleport out of the dungeon', is that some games force that teleportation on you after beating a boss, but as a player, maybe there were side-routes I hadn't finished exploring yet.

 

But in general, I agree that getting through dangerous environments (both in and back out) is were alot of gameplay pleasure can be found. One of my earliest moments of immense pleasure as a gamer was playing Quest 64 and making it through Cull Hazard Cave (and later, Blue Cave, and the Mine shaft, and Boil Hole). This experience is so enjoyable, I've beaten Quest 64 around ten times (no exaggeration), and as far as I can reflect, every play-through I've had the same pleasurable experience breaking out through dungeon to the world on the other side.

 

This is partly why I enjoy dungeons as more of a "tunnel" mindset then a "tomb" mindset. Coming through to the world on the other side has always been a pleasure to me, in many games (Mt. Moon in Pokemon Red/Blue, and many JRPGs have these).

One of the coolest things, though it doesn't make too much sense, is having a full village or town at the dungeon's exit. The sudden rush of exhilaration at going from "Am I even going to survive?" to food, items, inns, saver, peaceful energetic music, new and pleasant visuals, multiple more open paths to explore (your choice of) new areas of the world.

 

This "tunnel-dungeon" is actually something I feel open world games could benefit more from.

 

 

 

I might have to make a difficult decision between pressing on or turning back [...]. Those choices are part of the game.

 

This ^^^ is a major part of gaming for me.

 

Toeing my way into Cull Hazard, making past the cliff area, turning back resting again, re-entering and making it to another visual landmark before turning back again, finally pressing all the way in always uneasy about whether I'll actually survive, but finally travelling so deep into it that there's no use turning back now... then it becomes a gamble of, do I waste my items or not, so I can travel another ten minutes before death?

Taking the risk, using an item or two, pressing on, health and mana whittled down to almost nothing, deeper than I've ever been, no exit in sight, no chance of making it now, any minute I'll die... now it's just a matter of pressing on to map out the dungeon in my mind for my next attempt, because any step here I'm going to get beaten, but... Wait - what's that light? That's not... no? Yes? It's sunlight pouring through an exit... is it really the exit? Or just leading to another part of the dungeon? It must be the exit... Oh crap, another enemy, I hope it's not a... dang it, another freakin' dragon. Run run run run, dodge his fireballs. The light, almost there... almost there... yes! I'm finally through! What's that noise? I'm in a village, and there's the inn right in front of me!

The village's background music is practically singing to me. No; it's practically singing for me. I've survived.

 

The exhilaration of survival is major to me. The pleasure of exploration is fantastic. Games that combine the two together are immensely important to me.

 

What's really cool is that when games do survival well, it actually reinforces the exploration (at least to me). I can re-enjoy the pleasure of exploring areas I've already explored on previous play-throughs, and re-appreciate the world, if there's that element of risk in my choices, that thrill of danger  in my actions and the pleasure of surviving, of making it to the next safe place.

 

One random thought is: having bosses at the end of dungeons doesn't make much sense in this mindset, because dying between beating a boss and saving is miserable and feels punitive. Instead, I'd like bosses guarding the entrances of dungeons (or perhaps only partway into them), and guarding treasures in side-branches of dungeons (where players can bypass them by choice until their next excursion into the dungeon). I'd have to give it some thought, but I think this might be a more enjoyable (for my play-style) way of designing dungeons, regardless of whether it's a tomb-type or tunnel-type dungeon.

 

Counter-intuitively, while I'm in favor of condensing game worlds to reducing unnecessary time in getting from A to B, I'm also in favor of making dungeons long enough (but still content-dense) to give players a feeling of hopeless and dread that they aren't going to make it through it alive until, suddenly, they do - with the sun shining and the birds chirping. I don't want dungeons stretched out and watered down, but I want them to be challenges of long-term survival as enemies gradually wear me down.

I also don't want dungeons to have cheap insta-death tricks (like balancing on narrow poles over vats of lava - unless that's a core mechanic of the game), and don't want dungeons to be maze-like to intentionally confuse and disorient. It's not fun (for me) to explore mazes that are designed to make each hallway look the same. But having long dungeons of unique visuals, with skippable side-branches guarded by guard-dogs that I can return to later, I think would probably be my preference.

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There have been points where I notice that all the fetch quests I'm given are such that I have to travel from one end of the map to the opposite side and it gets annoying that is all the designers could think of. But as a rule I tend to avoid fast travel with exception of when I have some kind of bug in the system that I need to escape. I'd prefer to walk or ride or whatever the whole way. While walking I tend to rotate the 3rd person view around the character and on occasion I notice stuff off to the side I want to go check out. Or if I know that there's a shortcut that might be a bit dangerous, like that area in New Vegas infested with Deathclaws north of Goodsprings, I ask myself if maybe I'm strong enough now to get through it without having to rely on some navmesh pathing quirk to save me.

I can see why people would prefer not to have to walk all the way between places though. I think I particularly disliked walking everywhere in Fable 2. Though that may be because the world was more one big path with no extra places to explore and predictable spawn points.

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To entirely fully grok the complete wholeness of Richard Bartle's player archtypes, he broke it down further into three axis instead of two, giving eight archtypes.

Original four vs current eight:

a9df2127de.pngd50c778d9b.jpg


That's wonderful! Thanks for that. And gratis, and domo arigato, and merci beaucoups (not to beat a dead horse that's expired)...

So, implicit vs. explicit. Will need to study on that some.

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My thoughts on it... it's all about user experience. In dungeons and dragons, a fight that lasts for only five minutes in game could easily take five hours in the real world to do. But in skyrim a fight can take about five minutes, but to walk from point a to be could be a half an hour.

 

Really video games do not get the same leeway as Dungeons and Dragons... and as developers start focusing on larger and larger worlds... because of market demands... people start getting bored of the game because it's not populated and uninteresting. But nothing is getting fixed, because players cry out for larger worlds... because they think that their boredom is based on the world being so small. But in reality... it's just because there's less shit to do between the time of them walking from point A to B.

 

Fallout 4 got crap for this, but in the wrong way. The world was well populated, the enviorments were interesting. The dungeons were all unique. Just about everything had a story to it. But players called it small... because everything was just so densely placed together, and your movement speed was greater. The world honestly is bigger than Skyrim as more of it is infact populated. But most players can actually remember a good chunk of the enviorments. Some honestly don't even need to use the map to find their way. And plenty get lost in just looking at the environment. The game did it's job, and the player's time does not feel wasted.

 

Farcry is even worse about this. MUUUCH worse. So instead of having Fallout's problem where the players think the world is too small... Farcry's world is freaking huge. But it's not interesting. Most of your sidequests are pretty much copy and pasted across the world. Each location's environment is not all that interesting. And personally... nine times out of ten I found myself being completely unable to remember any of the enviorments. Even found it hard to navigate in places I frequently visit. Because lets face it... there's virtually no attempt made. This game might have felt more impressive if the world... but in the end it just feels like an annoyance for the player to have to run across a jungle to get to point B from A.

 

 

And THE WORST of this in my opinion was WB game's Shadow of Mordore. In my opinion, this game was BORING. The quests were utterly repetitive they were literally the same things... just rephrased. Fighting everything felt like a chore. And then the biggest offense to all of this... was how FAR everything was spaced between each other, and how much crap got in your way... that were the equivalent of ants to a can of RAID. I genuinely felt like I wasted precious hours of my life. And quickly became infuriated with thee game in less than thirty minutes.

 

In conclusion... it's all about pacing, and distracting the player for video games. That's how you keep them from feeling like that you've wasted their time.

Edited by Tangletail

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